Digital Storytelling and Digital Pedagogy Lab Toronto #digped

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a two and a half day workshop on digital storytelling at Digital Pedagogy Lab Toronto.

My motivation for attending was first to get a chance to meet the amazing Helen DeWaard – a friend who I have worked with online for years but had not yet had a chance to meet face-to-face. It was awesome to share several meals with her, and to see that she is just as amazing in-person as she is online. I also had a chance to spend some time with Giulia Forsythe and to meet many new amazing people.

I’ve also been interested in digital storytelling since I went to Digital Pedagogy Lab in Fredericksburg. There, I met the amazing Lora Taub and Jenna Azar whom I later invited to speak to my online class about digital storytelling. That session had a huge impact on me. I realized that I could use digital storytelling as a way to share my dissertation results. Segments of my personal story bring the results to life.

When I saw the digital storytelling was a course option, I jumped on it. This was to be my chance to learn how to do this right. I already had some basic video editing skills, I just needed to learn how to tell a good digital story.

Another reason I wanted to take the course was that I’ll be teaching digital storytelling in a grad elective that I’m teaching this summer. The course is about professional online presence (i.e. ePortfolio creation). I figured that digital storytelling is a great way for my students to tell the audience who they are – in a way that is unique to them. My theory is that it will help create interest in the ePortfolio.

I cannot say that I learned anything specific during the workshop – except that it gave me confidence in my process and what I am teaching. I had to document my creation process for my students this semester – as I’m teaching a course on creating a multimedia project. It was affirming to hear that the process followed by others aligns with the process that I follow.

My biggest questions coming out of the workshop are, what are the leading questions that I can use to help inspire learners to write the story? So far, I have:

  • What emotion do you want to convey?
  • What insight do you want to provide to your audience?

These questions were not too difficult for me in the context of my dissertation, but I’ve been working on that for a long time. I don’t feel like I have enough leading questions for teaching my students how to come up with a good story to tell.

What questions would you use to help someone create a story about themselves?

4 Replies to “Digital Storytelling and Digital Pedagogy Lab Toronto #digped”

  1. One neat trick I learned in a digital storytelling course is that the form of a letter can help unlock a story. (This can be a useful approach for people who want to talk about a person or time, but the narrative structure of a story is proving elusive.) Thank-you letters can be really uplifting – so the question might be “who is someone you’d like to give credit to” or something like that. And on the flip side, “who do you wish you could talk to” can unlock stories for the dead or those we’ve fallen out of touch with… even locations or objects.

    Or maybe the question is more like “what is an event in your life where someone deserves more credit” or “what is an event you’d like to talk about with a person who’s not available.” Something like that might open up a broader palette of potential narratives. The letter structure is just one way of unsticking something that’s stuck.

    1. Thanks Joe. I like the letter idea. In this case they are telling a professional story about themselves – so it could be writing a cover letter for your ideal job. How would you tell the story of who you are to a potential employer?
      Now I’m thinking aloud here – but maybe going from letter to images then back to script – so collecting images or video snippets that describe the letter in visual terms, then writing the narrative to support it. That might help with some unsticking.

  2. What about making a top 5 list of the stories or anecdotes they would choose to tell when trying to help others get to know them. In other words, what are the stories you tell to let people get to know you?

    1. Hi Terry,
      Thanks. What is interesting is that I do this type of thing as part of the course intro. Where I have students share random things about themselves. I like the idea of making a list … list 5 things or list 10 things … as that too can help students figure out what to focus on.

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